Moving from SmartThings to the Z-Box Hub?

Has anyone made the transition? I’m interested in hearing of your experience–both pro and con. It being a Z-Wave box primarily, I’m not as concerned about adding/controlling devices and I am more interested in your experience creating scenes, automations, and use of the app when away from home, compared to the SmartThings experience. I’m looking toward moving one of my hubs over to the Z-Box–perhaps eventually both homes–and would appreciate anything others here on the forum can share… :thinking:

I made the transition from ST to the Z-Box hub and have been really happy.

I will say that the Z-Box hub has so much flexibility that it really forces you to think about things you take for granted on ST. For example, have a scene that sets the alarm? Great. That back door is open so the alarm goes off because you have to program in that you only want that scene to run/alarm to arm if all the doors are closed (for example).

The amount of flexibility is really powerful, just takes thinking through something you want to accomplish start to finish.

Hopefully that makes sense. I ran into the same logistical challenges with geofencing, as well - it’s not as straight forward as ST because you have to program all the scenarios. You can copy scenes so it isn’t very time consuming.

I really love the customization on the app - adding my own icons has been easy and helpful, and allowing access to only certain scenes, rooms, etc. has been great for keeping the techyness off of my wife’s phone - the virtual switches are hidden for her but visible to me for example.

I have probably 40 devices I run, probably 50% Zooz, and haven’t had any trouble adding them. I have lots of ideas on hold until Zooz releases the motion sensor wall switch.

Hope that helps - if you have any specific questions I’m happy to do my best to answer them.


Thanks for your thoughtful resonse, @fdw201, much appreciated!

Actually, walking though the online tutorials about setting up scenes & automations sounds good. The complexity doesn’t bother me: I’ve programmed some fairly complicated logic over the years. I guess I like the idea of getting closer to the hardware, compared to obfuscation layers so common today.

How did you handle the ST concepts of “Location Mode” (my current logic is built on Home/Evening/Night/Away). I see the Z-Box has what looks like enumerated variables available for automations. Is that how you approached it?

I’m moving from Vera which I’ve been using since their first version all the way to the latest, but I don’t want to switch to Ezlo. I’m generally liking Z-Box so far but I haven’t moved everything over yet. There are some things missing (e.g., good door lock support, support for some old zwave devices) and things that I don’t like (e.g., thermostat implementation using climate zones). The Google Assistant integration can only handle one hub. Alexa too I imagine.

I’ve been working on this transition for around 6 months and I’ve mostly stopped working on it because there’s a zwave bug in the latest firmware that leaves the entire zwave mesh inoperable until I reboot the Z-box, and this happens randomly. It can happen multiple times a day or go a week without a problem. Support suggested going back to a previous firmware by restoring a backup. That would be great except I’ve added a ton of devices and scenes since then and I’d rather not have to re-do it all so I’m patiently waiting for a fix in firmware.

All those complaints aside, I do like what they’ve made with the Z-Box. The automation capabilities out of the box are really good, and when you need more you can still fall back to LUA code. It’s particularly convenient because you can, with one button click, convert an existing scene to LUA then add whatever you needed to from there, rather than implementing the whole scene from scratch in LUA. The regular automation capabilities are good enough that I haven’t had to do much at all in LUA, it’s generally very easy to do complicated tasks in the normal interface.

I’m not sure what ST’s Location Mode is, but the Z-Box has profiles like Home, Away, or whatever else you want (you can make your own). Switching profiles can trigger actions or scenes, or your scenes can use the currently-set profile to decide whether or not to run or trigger. If that’s the kind of thing you’re doing in ST, it’ll probably be just as good. I didn’t use that kind of thing in Vera but I’m really liking it in Z-Box. You can create whatever enumerated variables you want and they can easily be used in scenes.

I’m really glad they made a forum so we can share ideas, solutions, and troubleshoot problems in a community rather than bugging their support team for everything (or figuring everything out myself). I’m hopeful they’ll eventually resolve the biggest things preventing me completely switching over but I like Z-Box enough that I’m willing to give it time. For now I plan to keep using both though.

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This certainly needs a fix! As a user with two homes–roughly halftime at each–it is imperative the system be as stable as possible, as they are used for environmental monitoring and security. I already use a KeepConnect to make sure the Internet is up and running at each location, but to have the hub go out to lunch without warning would be problematic!

Thanks so much for your input! I am comfortable with LUA and pleased to hear of the ease in which you’ve created your automations…

Agree it needs a fix. Now that I think about it, I don’t think it happens on the hub at our other place. Maybe it has something to to with how many devices I have (only a few moved to the other one so far) or maybe something about the specific devices I have here. Maybe one day I’ll go back to earlier firmware and start over just to see.

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Exactly! The names are different (Profiles vs. Location Mode), but the same analogy.

The ability to auto-generate the LUA, based upon an existing scene, so you can “enhance” it sounds like a real win! I’ve watched the (few) videos I can find on the web–those on the Z-Box Hub website are very informational–and there is one very interesting review I found, as well.

Have you done anything with QuickApps or loaded anything from the Fibaro Marketplace that are available?

The instructions for adding the Alexa or Google Home skills appears to be straight forward. Have you tried either? ST required several workarounds to handle two locations/hubs, but has worked fairly well once I figured that out!

Thanks, @zoozer, for your patience answering all of my questions! :thinking:

I have not.

I have the Google Home integration set up (through Fibaro) but there doesn’t seem to be a way to set up more than one hub unfortunately. I suspect I could work around it with multiple accounts on both Fibaro and Google but I haven’t bothered to fight with that yet. I’m giving Zooz some time to add proper support themselves. As for the GH integration’s performance, I’ve noticed it’s a bit slower than what I had with Vera. Vera was pretty snappy to respond to commands, you didn’t feel like you were waiting for a response. Z-box through Fibaro takes maybe an extra second where I briefly wonder if it’s going to actually do the thing. It could be because I still have both and Google is searching through Vera first before moving on to Fibaro. I kind of doubt that, but won’t know for sure until I eventually get rid of Vera.

When I was shopping around for a new hub brand, one thing that pushed me to try Z-Box was their customer support. I emailed them to ask some question about device support on a Sunday afternoon and they replied maybe an hour later. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I’ve had good experiences through their ticket system as well now that I have the hubs (ignoring that I’m waiting for some fixes and features still). They do seem to not want to deal with old devices though, which I can understand since zwave protocol has been updated a lot over the years, but I had to replace a simple on/off light switch because it was too old and almost had to replace a bunch of leak sensors. Then again, the Vera hub doesn’t support some newer devices and never will, so I guess it’s only fair. :slight_smile:

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